I’m very excited to be part of the Starglass Blog Tour, hosted by Shane at Itching For Books! You can read my review below, and keep reading, because you could win one of FIVE signed copies of Starglass!
In this futuristic, outer space thriller, Terra has to decide between supporting the rebellion she believes in—and saving the life of the boy she loves.
For generations, those aboard the Asherah have lived within strict rules meant to help them survive the journey from a doomed Earth to their promised land, the planet Zehava–which may or may not be habitable, a question whose imperative grows now, in the dwindling months before touchdown.
Sixteen-year-old Terra’s situation is tough. A dead mom. A grieving dad. A bitchy boss, and a betrothed who won’t kiss her no matter how bad she wants it. She’s doing her best to stay afloat, even when she gets assigned a vocation she has no interest in: botany.
But after Terra witnesses the Captain’s guard murder an innocent man, she’s drawn into a secret rebellion bent on restoring power to the people. The stakes are higher than anything she could have imagined. When the rebellion gives Terra an all-important mission, she has to decide where her loyalties lie for once and for all. Because she has started to fall for the boy she’s been sent to assassinate…
Expected Publication: July 23 2013
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
About the author:
Phoebe North spent the first twenty-two years of her life in New Jersey, where she lugged countless library books home to read in the bathtub, at the dinner table, in front of the television, and under the blankets with a flashlight when she should have been asleep.
After college, Phoebe went south, enrolling in the University of Florida’s MFA program to study poetry. But after studying children’s literature with kidlit scholars (and geniuses) Kenneth Kidd and John Cech, she started writing books about magic, robots and aliens for teenagers. And realized she loved it almost as much as she loved Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.
Now, Phoebe lives in New York State with her husband, and many licensed novels. She likes to cook, watch Degrassi, sew, take her cat for walks, and, of course, write. Despite many soaked pages, she still loves to read in the bath.
In a word: An intriguing mix of science fiction and old fashioned values, a unique floating world in space, a society on the brink of rebellion, all tied together with beautiful writing.
“I always tell them that Mara Stone’s never been much of a joiner. Movements are for people who can’t move themselves, that’s what I’ve always said.”
Starglass was a complete surprise for me. I love it when a book turns out to be something different from what I initially expect, and this was one of those books. Phoebe North has created the opposite of the alien invasion concept: people from Earth are headed through space towards a new planet, and they have no idea exactly what’s in store when they get there. This is not a book full of action and adventure. The pace is slow at times, but the author still manages to create tension among her characters. Imagine living your entire life on a spaceship, and having to adhere to some very strict social rules. Your generation will be the first one to actually set foot on a new planet, after five hundred years of drifting through space. The hopes and expectations of these lucky ones as they get closer and closer to the planet are great fodder for conflict, and North succeeds in setting up an imaginative story that will surely take off like a rocket in the next installment.
One of the most unique aspects of Starglass is that all three thousand people aboard the Asherah are of Jewish heritage. The backstory is this: Five hundred years ago an asteroid hit and destroyed Earth, and because they knew it was coming, humans prepared to launch ships into space in the hopes that at least some of them would eventually find a new planet to live on. The Asherah was funded by the Post-terrestrial Jewish Preservation Society, a group determined to preserve and carry on the traditions of the Jewish people. The ship is headed towards a distant planet called Zehava, and it will take five hundred years to get there. The story picks up only months before the much-anticipated arrival, and is told by a fifteen-year-old girl named Terra. Terra is just about to turn sixteen, the age when teens can “declare” themselves to each other and prepare for marriage and family duties, as well as be assigned a job in the community. This society is steeped in Jewish traditions, which made the story feel like a literary science fiction version of Fiddler on the Roof. Old-fashioned values prevail on board the Asherah: children obey their parents, teens are on the look-out for their “bashert,” or soul-mate, and above all, citizens work to achieve tikkun olam, or a perfect world.
But in the midst of these traditions, which seem so out of place on a spaceship that is hurtling through space, North has added some very science fiction-like elements. Babies are no longer born by women, but “hatched” in a hatchery (Boys are sterilized when they turn thirteen to avoid pregnancy); the DNA of many plants and animals from Earth has been frozen and stored in order to regenerate life on the new planet; and the seasons and sleep patterns of the colony on the ship are controlled by clock keepers. I found this mixture of old and new to be fascinating, and I applaud the author for taking such a leap with her imagination.
Terra is semi-involved with two different boys on the ship, and she spends a great deal of time trying to figure out which one is her bashert. I did love Terra because you can see her struggling to not only figure out her place in the world—or at least her place on the ship—but her dilemma of whether to do the right thing and be a good Jewish girl who adheres to tradition, or to fight for her independence and follow her heart. The society on the ship is ruled by the Council, a group of high born citizens who enforce the stringent rules of the ship. The tension in the story really starts when Terra discovers a group of rebels called The Children of Abel who want to overthrow the Council. Getting involved with them will change Terra’s life forever, as she is expected to make hard decisions for the first time in her life.
North’s writing is simply gorgeous, and it works well with Terra’s personality. Terra is a dreamer and a romantic who knows some of what she wants, but not all. Her desire to be an artist, a vocation that is frowned upon in this society, puts her at odds with everyone around her, including her gruff father and even one of her potential mates. Her life is also colored by the tragic death of her mother by cancer, a disease that was supposedly bred out of humans long ago. The author’s voice gives wings to Terra’s longings and makes her disappointments all the more poignant.
A flurry of activity and a few surprises at the very end made me wish there had been more action throughout the entire story, but I’m hopeful that the next book in the series will have more of this excitement and dread. I’m dying to know what happens next on this completely unique journey that Phoebe North has crafted.
Many thanks to the publisher for supplying a review copy.
I’d always had secrets, and not just the poison I carried with me wherever I went. There were dreams, too, wine dark. They still came every night. When Silvan kissed me, I thought of snow and the wild perfume of summer flowers. I was always naming them in my head, even as I sprawled out by his side in his wide, luxurious bed—even as I let him whisper sweet words in my ear. I couldn’t hear them. All I heard was Magnolia virginiana, Syringa vulgaris, and the names of a thousand different species of rose.
And how about this awesome video?
And now for the giveaway: Five winners will receive a signed copy of Starglass! Simply click below to go to the Rafflecopter:
This review is part of the Debut Author Challenge, hosted by Hobbitsies.